Jeanne Allen’s Center for Education Reform is one of the long-time reformer groups in D.C. Allen was beating the drums for school choice long before it was cool or bipartisan. Before she launched CER in 1993, she was an education analyst at the rightwing Heritage Foundation.

At the time CER was founded, it was a lonely voice on the right, touting the virtues of charter schools, choice, freedom, and innovation. But now she is soul-mates with the reformers in the Obama administration, who are as enthusiastic about charters and choice as Jeanne Allen.

This ought to be a triumphant moment. But no. Allen and CER recently released a manifesto warning that their movement was at risk. Reformers have fallen into complacency, and all the gains of the past quarter century might easily slip away.

Despite domestic and international turmoil, the report says, “the movement to ensure educational attainment for all is at a crossroads. We are losing ground in part because we are losing the argument. And our hopes of systemic change — our progress — will be lost, and we will be a nation at even greater risk, if we do not refocus our collective energies and message to connect with the broad universe of education consumers and citizens everywhere.”

Losing ground and losing the argument. Yep! Reformers must reach out to those “education consumers” and shake them up. Without a renewed sense of crisis, all the “reform” progress might be lost.

It is a strange report, to be sure. It tries to revive the evangelistic fervor of “A Nation at Risk,” the celebrated document of 1983, which warned that our nation was at risk if we didn’t reverse the “rising tide of mediocrity” in the nation’s schools that threatened our very survival.

Well, here we are, 33 years later, with the world’s most powerful economy and military.

Despite the dire predictions, we survived. The nation’s gravest problem is income inequality and the shrinking middle class, but for reformers, it is always about the schools.

The new reformer manifesto, unlike A Nation at Risk,” was ignored by the media. Peter Gteene and I may be the only people who read it, other than those who were paid to read it.

Damn that complacency! CER wants to rile everyone up again. We are still at risk! Really! We need more choice! More charters! Disrupt those failing schools! Privatize for innovation!

Why has the movement lost its zest and gusto? How do we awaken those 50-somethings to storm the barricades? That’s the problem. When people become too fat and happy, it is difficult to stir those old passions to break the unions and destroy the public schools.

Maybe I’m wrong, but the manifesto reads like the last gasp of a moribund movement.

Peter Greene reviewed the manifesto. He slogged through its turgid prose so you don’t have to. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.